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Equipment Demo Emphasizes Accessibility to Voting for Disabled R - KOAM TV 7

Equipment Demo Emphasizes Accessibility to Voting for Disabled Residents

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Joplin, MO -

A demonstration at the Joplin independent living center brings accessible voting equipment to those who will use it at the next election.

 The Jasper county clerk explained the latest equipment to assist disabled voters.

  Headphones are attached to a console along with a game style controller with color coded and uniquely shaped buttons. Its functions are also in braille. But voters can hear candidates' names and punch the "x" for their choice.

     It helps voters who are blind, hearing impaired or can't stand up to vote.

     There have been struggles at polling places with accessing equipment which prompted the training. Chip Hailey who works at the Independent Living Center as a public policy advocate is blind himself. He says he used the new equipment at the presidential primary only after some delays with workers figuring out how to use it. Hailey said, "If the equipment isn’t set up and the polling officials don’t know how to use it, it becomes a terrible dis-incentive for folks to get out to vote. So what we want to do is encourage folks to get out to vote.

Brittany Stovall, who is also blind, tried out the equipment and asked lots of questions. She said like any technology it might take getting used to using. Stovall said of the color coded buttons, "it’s a little confusing. I’m sure after more than one use it will become custom. I struggled with the terminology it used. It said paddle. I recognized a triangle and I recognized a square but I didn't really see (find)  a paddle."

     Brittany was happy to get to experiment with the system and is excited for the next election. She and Hailey say accessible equipment makes it so the disabled can vote independently and privately without having to tell helpers for whom they are voting.

     The county clerk says polling place workers will get training on setting up the system in July.

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